Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Was Navratilova the greatest?

Well, according to a Top 100 list of all-time Wimbledon champions in today's Times, she was. But are the men's and women's games really comparable - and would Martina have been quite as successful had the women's game in her day been as competitive as it is now?

The Times has attempted to introduce an objective criteria for measuring greatness, but for me, things like this are a subjective judgement. The greatest players I have seen at Wimbledon in all my years of watching the tournament are as follows:


1. Rod Laver
2. John McEnroe
3. Roger Federer
4. Pete Sampras
5. Bjorn Borg
6. Ken Rosewall
7. Andre Agassi
8. Boris Becker
9. Jimmy Connors
10. Ilie Nastase


1. Serena Williams
2. Martina Navratilova
3. Steffi Graf
4. Justine Henin
5. Billie Jean King
6. Venus Williams
7. Martina Hingis
8. Margaret Court
9. Chris Evert
10. Evonne Goolagong

There are three names on my list who never actually won the Wimbledon title - Rosewall, Nastase and Henin - but all three graced the game with their artistry and richly deserved to lift the crown.

Laver and Serena top the list simply because, in my view, they were unbeatable at their respective peaks - complete tennis machines both.

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1 comment:

nomed said...

Level of competition is relative depending on the time frame. You simply cannot compare playing conditions from one decade to another because too many things have changed. These include scoring rules, equipment, surfaces to mention a few. The current women's game favours Serena Williams because it is based on power hitting from the baseline. It should be noted that there are no serve and volley players left on the WTA. It is likely that Serena Williams would have lost against Martina if she had played with the same smaller wooden racquet or the less powerful graphite racquets used in the past. With the older equipment, an excellent baseliner such as Chris Evert would usually lose to an excellent serve and volley player such as Martina because of the speed of the grass court. However, the newer racquets have tipped the balance in favour of the baseliner.